Renewable energies will not increase their share of global energy supplies until governments are more "aggressive" in supporting them, according to the International Energy Agency. In a review of the sector published last week the agency concludes that we are at the early stages of an "inevitable transition" to an energy system "largely dependent on renewable energy". However, the renewable energy industry is still "fragile" and can anticipate capturing only a fraction of the market created by an estimated doubling of generation capacity expected world-wide over the next four decades. The agency calls for greater research and development efforts led by government in partnership with industry, along with more fiscal and financial incentives. Most importantly, the report says, renewable energy generators need a "stable policy climate" to be able to weather fluctuations in prices of traditional energy sources and the initially adverse influence of energy sector restructuring. Moreover, it says, renewable energy will continue to be "hampered" until electricity prices at consumer level begin to reflect real environmental costs. To redress the balance, the report says, governments should consider setting "minimum shares" for renewable energy consumption - an approach already adopted by European countries such as the Netherlands and Denmark.
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